Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


American Studies

First Advisor

Professor Davarian Baldwin


This thesis seeks to employ the fusion New Haven, Connecticut's municipal legacy with current market forces and players to critically analyze the urban condition. I will utilize Naomi Klein's notion of disaster capitalism to explore how development and management corporations in New Haven capitalized on the subprime crisis to further exploit already marginalized communities through vast land grabs and limited real estate maintenance. New Haven’s current urban composition is the result of a legacy of disproportionate municipal support and selective appropriation of socio-cultural value in the city’s low-income neighborhoods. In order to avoid addressing the systemic inequalities created by the City’s urban history, these disenfranchised communities have gradually grown socially, economically and spatially isolated. This trajectory created a housing landscape that was highly vulnerable to the devastating economic effects of the national subprime mortgage crisis. In New Haven’s low-income neighborhoods, the societal status assigned to the population, coupled with the magnified effects of the post-crisis marketplace led to widespread and reactionary disaster capitalism.[1] Disaster Capitalism is the practice of utilizing a major disaster to shape economic practices and policies that the population would not accept under normal circumstances.[2] Subprime lending is the widespread practice of originating mortgage loans to unqualified or low-income borrowers for future sale on the secondary market. This practice was at the core of the housing market’s collapse, as the long-term viability of these loans was not relevant for the organizations and brokers by whom they were originated.[3] In the local fallout of this national crisis, companies and institutions exploited the post-subprime marketplace by utilizing disaster capitalism to profit off disenfranchised populations and influence development projects to serve internal goals. The effectively neutral stance taken by City government toward the exploitation of these communities has allowed for these companies and institutions to shape the City and reap monetary benefits on a massive scale.

[1] Disaster Capitalism is a term originally used by author Naomi Klein. Klein, Naomi. The Shock Doctrine. Metropolitan Books. Henry Holt and Company. 2008

[2] "Disaster Capitalism." LLC. .

[3] Muolo, Paul and Padilla, Matthew. Chain of Blame: How Wall Street Caused the Mortgage and Credit Crisis. Hoboken, NJ, Wiley. 2010. Page 11


Senior Thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in American Studies.